Prof’s space-tracking company rescues Algonquin observatory

The Algonquin Radio Observatory is used irregularly by universities, companies and Natural Resources Canada, but eventually, the giant radio telescope was scheduled for complete decommissioning and Canada was set to lose one of its engineering marvels, reported the Pembroke Daily Observer Aug. 23. In January of this year, the telescope received a stay of execution thanks to Thoth Technology Inc., a Canadian space company that has big plans. It is leasing the observatory from the federal government for 20 years.

The company’s chairman of the board and its technical director, Brendan Quine, space engineering professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, said taking apart the telescope would have been a terrible loss for the whole country. "It cost about $250 million to build. It would be a terrible shame to level it," said Quine. "And then there would be the loss of Canadian capability in this area (of science). The observatory is such a wonderful place. It would have been another Avro Arrow if it had been lost. We were determined not to let that happen."  

Thoth Technology provides space tracking and communications services for both near-Earth and interplanetary spacecraft using the big antenna. Radio antennas, like the one at the Algonquin observatory, can be constructed on a much larger scale than an optical system, which allows them to ‘see’ farther into the universe.  

Quine said Thoth Technology intends to use the Algonquin Radio Observatory as the ground station for the upcoming Northern Light mission. Northern Light is a Canadian space mission to send at least one and possibly more landers to the planet Mars. While York University is the official research host for Northern Light, the mission currently involves 12 universities across Canada and about 50 scientists. The mission hopes to launch in 2009 but there is a chance that delays will postpone the launch for a few more years.  

Parents of university students get crash course in how to let go

In an era of bubble-wrapped childhoods and parental micromanagement, "back off" is not the easiest message to deliver. But it’s one that universities and colleges across the country find themselves repeating year after year, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 23. 

Back in the day, students got dropped off at residence or made their way across their hometown to their first class without anyone thinking twice about their parents’ tender feelings. But the elimination of OAC, the fifth year of high school, in Ontario meant that in 2004 a crop of underage kids headed to schools that were jammed and overextended as a result of the double cohort. Parents were nervous wrecks.

Universities have responded. Today, parent orientation is as much a part of the August ritual as lining up at the campus bookstore.

York University, which holds orientation in late August, offers anxious parents reassurance on its Web site with a videotaped talk from a staff member about the transition their kids will go through.

Olympic setback no blight on coach, says York soccer head

The Olympic defeat of the Canadian women’s soccer team prompted far too much wailing from far too many critics and was undeserved, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Aug. 23. Among the verbal battles that ensued after Even Pellerud’s final game in charge of a program he built from nothing and with next to no help from the Canadian Soccer Association was one between two former Canadian internationals.  

Jason De Vos, now CBC TV’s analyst, could not resist telling us Pellerud’s longball tactics were old fashioned and was forceful in demanding possession soccer if Canada wanted to beat the world’s top-ranked team.  

Paul James, head coach of soccer at York University who played in the 1986 World Cup and was once a TV analyst, appears to have understood the de Vos opinion but claims he spoke without enough background in the women’s game in this country. He points out Pellerud’s tactical brain has been instrumental in carrying the women’s program from amateur bumbling to professional superiority. Without him, Canada would not have been in Beijing. 

Police shift focus away from prostitution, suggests prof

Prostitution charges dropped by 24 per cent province wide – 1,992 last year from 2,644 in 2000 – reported The Canadian Press Aug. 25. There is generally little "proactive enforcement” of prostitution laws, said Alan Young, a lawyer and professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and longtime champion of a more liberal approach to issues like drug enforcement and prostitution. Charges may be declining as larger urban centres, like Toronto, increasingly shift their law-enforcement focus and resources to more serious – and politically charged – crimes like gun violence, Young said.  

Supreme Court will uphold emissions regulations, predicts prof

The Canadian corporate giants dominating Alberta oil sands extraction and refining lobbied the federal government intensively this summer, reported the Edmonton Sun Aug. 25. The campaign began shortly after Liberal Leader Stephane Dion unveiled his plan for $15 billion worth of new taxes on carbon emissions and continued through July. But the lobbying also reflected industry concern over the Conservative government’s plan to use the Criminal Code, under the authority of environmental protection law, to enforce its own greenhouse gas reduction plan – a necessity because the environment and natural resources are under constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces.  

The C.D. Howe Institute, a conservative research and opinion group, published a legal analysis last week by constitutional expert Peter Hogg, a law professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, predicting the Supreme Court of Canada would likely uphold the regulations.

Sharp-shooting student loses home on the range

In an Aug. 23 story about the closing of the 81-year-old Union Station shooting range, the National Post mentions York undergraduate Jenny Johnson, 28, one of the gun club’s newest members. She got her firearms licence last fall.  

"She’s Wyatt Earp," Gary Guerin, the range officer in charge of safety, says. "I have a 92-year-old Luger that I have never been able to hit the paper with. Jenny can cut the centre out of the target with the damn thing." As her mentor, Guerin has taught her much about shooting – how to stand, how to sight, how to breathe: let out half of the air in your lungs and pull the trigger. He is a well-known client at the bank that Johnson works at and invited her to shoot last April when he found out that she was studying criminology at York. 

Musician touring the world

Jeremy Panda (BA ’04) can now cross ‘be a rock star’ off his to-do list, reported the Milton Canadian Champion Aug. 23.  Panda sings and plays the trumpet, guitar and piano, so it was only a matter of time before he’d join a band. But not just any band. Panda’s recently become a member of the Dunes, an already established Canadian alternative rock band whose albums are distributed by Universal Music.  

Legal eagle gets ready to call it a day

William Korz (LLB ’54, LLM ’77), 82, wakes up early every morning, does 30 minutes of yoga and takes a 20-minute walk to stay young, reported the Waterloo Region Record Aug. 25. But the years have still caught up with Cambridge’s longest-serving lawyer. Failing muscles in his right eye are causing blurry vision. His driver’s licence has been suspended – maybe permanently. And he’s reluctantly folding his legal practice at the end of September after 54 years.  

McMaster’s $100,000 club is third largest of Ontario universities

McMaster University had the third-highest number of employees earning more than $100,000 out of all Ontario universities last year, reported the Hamilton Spectator Aug. 23. University of Toronto had the most at 2,034 and York University, the second most at 1,023. 

Robart’s government was responsible for building York
In an Aug. 24 pofile of the late John Parmenter Robarts, Ontario’s 17th premier, The London Free Press stated that he had been chancellor of York University and his government was responsible for developing Ontario’s community college system, GO Transit, the construction of York University, the Ontario Science Centre, the expansion of legal aid and launching of the Ontario Scholarship fund. 

On air

  • York student Tamara Gordon was interviewed about the back-to-school party she organizes for children in her Toronto neighbourhood, on “CTV News” Aug. 24.
  • Myra Rutherdale, a history professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, is interested in stories from northern nurses to publish in a book, reported CBC Radio’s “Qulliq” in Nunavut Aug. 22.
  • Ian Roberge, political science professor in York’s Glendon College, discussed Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s Toronto visit, on Radio-Canada’s “Infos Régionales” in Toronto Aug. 22.